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July 9, 2013 / C H Thompson

Airbrushing women from history

If we apply Stephen Lukes’ analysis of power, Julia Gillard’s removal from office is illustrative of the first face of power. Yet maybe the 2nd face of power would be more useful to explain her removal if there’s evidence of people within her political party setting an agenda to remove her as their leader by ‘preventing’ any discussions on how to help her enhance her status.

Notwithstanding these possibilities it might be more appropriate to apply Lukes 3rd face of power in order to understand what’s occurred. Misogyny is ideological in the sense there’s a conscious application of a cohesive idea to create a false consciousness for the recipients of that idea in order to create a biased or distorted view for the benefit of a social group – in this case men.

A good example is evident in the way the media presented Andy Murray’s 2013 Wimbledon win such as the Times ‘Murray ends 77-year wait for British win’. These and similar headlines, had the effect of airbrushing Virginia Wade’s 1977 from history. 

For Lukes his radical 3rd face of power identified the insidious features of those groups exercising power is:

‘… prevent people, to whatever degree, from having grievances by  shaping their perceptions, cognitions and preferences in such a way that they accept their role in the existing order of things, either because they can see or imagine no alternative to it, or because they see it as natural and unchangeable, or because they value it as divinely ordained and beneficial. To assume the absence of grievance equals consensus is simply to rule out the possibility of false or manipulated consensus by definitional fiat.’ ( Lukes, 1974, p24)

Therefore if we apply the above extract to the Virginia Wade extract, women themselves can become ‘misogynist’ by ‘thinking’ Andy Murray was the first British player to win a Grand Slam title at Wimbledon for 77 years.

Returning to feminist social theory helps explain the impact of this

Return to Lukes faces of power

Alternatively you can return to the role of power in the family

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